COLUMBUS — Football players were probably wearing leather helmets without facemasks the first time a coach said, “The quarterback gets too much credit when you win and too much blame when you lose.”
Ohio State’s Braxton Miller knows it. Miami’s Zac Dysert knows it.
Next to coach Urban Meyer, no one will have more attention focused on him when Ohio State begins the Meyer era today against Miami at Ohio Stadium than the Buckeyes’ sophomore quarterback Miller.
Miller was a work in progress — actually a work just getting underway — last season when he became a starter in the fourth game of his freshman season.
He was brilliant at times but also looked raw and unfinished other times. Now, with a year of experience and Meyer’s reputation as an offensive innovator, the expectations of him are through the roof.
Dysert, a four-year starter for Miami from Ada, won’t have quite that much focus on him.
But if Miami would somehow pull an upset for the ages, ruin Meyer’s debut and become the first Mid-American Conference team to beat Ohio State, history says Dysert would be at the center of that event.
Going back to 2000, Bowling Green has beaten Big Ten teams four times and Toledo also has four wins over Big Ten opponents in that time span.
Add in five more random MAC wins over Big Ten teams since 2000 and you have what I call The Unlucky 13 for the Big Ten.
And the thing that jumps out from all those wins is that the MAC teams’ quarterbacks either a.) played out of their minds; b.) played very well; or c.) avoided mistakes that gave the Big Ten teams easy scores.
Since 2000, Bowling Green has beaten Northwestern twice and has beaten Purdue and Minnesota. Toledo has wins over Michigan, Penn State, Purdue and Minnesota. The other five games I looked at were Central Michigan over Michigan State in 2009, Central Michigan and Ball State over Indiana in 2008, Western Michigan over Iowa in 2007 and Western Michigan over Iowa in 2000.
In those 13 games, the MAC quarterbacks completed 67 percent of their passes, averaged 301 yards passing and threw 27 touchdown passes against only 6 interceptions.
In two of Toledo’s wins, including the huge 13-10 win at Michigan in 2008, the Rockets’ quarterbacks didn’t throw a touchdown pass but they also didn’t have an interception.
On the other side of the equation, Ben Roethlisberger was picked off four times by Iowa in the RedHawks’ only loss his last season in college.
So, could Dysert lead Miami to a shocker today? It’s not impossible but it’s very unlikely.
There have been none of the typical clichés from Ohio State’s players and coaches this week about how they’re not overlooking Miami.
The tone has been more about how they want to get this highly anticipated season started. It’s been about how they want to put last year’s 6-7 season behind them.
Miami is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time for an historic upset.
The prediction: Ohio State 35, Miami 14